The EE-Hub has already been working in cooperation with numerous supporters to help make entrepreneurship in education a real possibility that can help as many people as possible. Below are some of the stories that have helped us understand why entrepreneurship in education is so important. If you want to get involved, remember to sign up on our pledge page
- I think it’s important to start thinking about how you want to make an impact from an early age, and it seems that JA is about giving young people a mindset and tools to do just that. Having entrepreneurs in Norway when the oil runs out will be very important, and we need to educate young people on how to manage a business, not just have great ideas.
We want to see tomorrow’s leaders, and give them an opportunity to learn about using technology (our expertise) to the best for their future companies.
The future is always changing, but probably quicker now than just a few decades ago. But running and leading a business is not changing as fast, and learning the skills now will enable them to run successful businesses in most new conditions.
What I enjoyed most from this volunteering experience was meeting young women who are eager to learn about technology and how to use it to lead their businesses smarter and more effectively.-
I was born in the Soviet Union and was an average student at an average school—not exactly set up for success. My home town of Pärnu was tiny, with 40,000 inhabitants—a village by most of the world’s standards. At sixteen I was given a school assignment to create a student company with my classmates. It was part of the Junior Achievement Young Enterprise economical study program that my school had joined.
Excited about this out-of-the-blue opportunity to feel important and business-like, I came up with an idea for a product: a reflective accessory that looks cool and makes clothing visible to cars in the dark (in hindsight, they were initially neither particularly cool nor able to survive a rainy day…).
I rushed home to share my excitement with my parents. The way I see it now, given the circumstances, they could have responded in either of these two ways:
1) The easy option was to remind me that I had no education, was born and raised in a remote post-Soviet country that the world had never heard of, and thus had no background for success. It would have been reasonable for them, as parents, to ask their daughter to focus on getting better grades, following the traditional dotted line to success.
2) Their second option was to encourage me to believe that my ideas could make a difference if I worked hard on executing them.
I was lucky enough to have parents who helped me believe in my own superpowers. It was my dad who suggested I take my idea to the patent office (that’s when I learned what that even meant!) and start finding clients. I opened the yellow pages catalogue (this was before the era of Google, of course) and found both — the patent office where I patented my idea, and my future customers.
A few years later I had sold hundreds of thousands of my little life-saving reflectors across Northern Europe. At the age of nineteen I was speaking in the European Parliament on behalf of young European entrepreneurs.
Today I am the founder and a CEO of a year-old startup Jobbatical spanning already across forty countries with team members from nine countries.
My father passed away a few years after my high school, but his support, together with Junior Achievement, had opened a door for me for which I am ever thankful. This is a door that exists in all of us. It’s the door to the greatest superpower of them all — the belief that you can make a change. I hope we can help open millions of these doors across Europe by mixing and matching our experience and knowledge on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement Young Enterprise.
I have a dream... to improve the teaching profession and offer apprenticeship and entrepreneurship opportunities to all students.
As a coordinator of the Italian version of the ‘dual system apprenticeship’ model, I introduced the first Italian vocational ‘management’ path. This is an exciting challenge for the Ikaros Foundation vocational schools where I work. My role is to coordinate 250 younger colleagues (regardless of their subjects) and introduce them to teaching entrepreneurship and providing training.
Together with teachers from those schools, we involve more than 2,000 students, from secondary vocational and university level education, in the following areas of study: business, ICT, electrical, electronic, hairdressing, cosmetology, culinary, pastry-making, agricultural, mechanical, graphic design and logistics.
At Ikaros Foundation, we are committed to reviving and promoting the vocational education system. We aim to make it evolve from being a ‘last resort’ choice before students join the ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET) club - as it is the Italian tradition - to a conscious and positive choice. The so-called ‘artisan revival’ pathway is now facilitated thanks to an improved professional teachers’ development and entrepreneurship education. It’s a fantastic pioneering model of excellence in Lombardy and easily extended to all of Italy.
I also have another important dream. I would like to establish a Foundation (together with local and national bodies) to promote the creation of start-ups by focusing on three specific target groups: vocational schools, students and people in need. Its objective would be to allocate, for a decade, 10,000 EUR annually to 10 Italian vocational schools. Those schools will be selected based on their offerings of specialised courses in the field of ‘human services’. The money will be used to provide tools and raw materials to the start-ups created by the students. Their startup will be in line with their field of study and will benefit disadvantaged people in the area, at affordable rates.
This foundation represents a win-win solution for everyone! Students wil gain new entrepreneurial and technical skills, will learn how to run a business and may even make a small profit for the services they deliver while they are studying. Society will see the number of young people in a NEET situation decrease and people in need will feel more included. Supporting businesses will themselves contribute to empower their future customers or employees. Furthermore, vocational schools will bring innovation by offering a new method of teaching vocational subjects which will encourage and motivate both its students and teachers; engaged in new, modern and effective learning processes.
A changing world creates many new jobs and the challenges that the near future presents can be transformed into opportunities and drivers of growth. New jobs, however, can only arise when there are enough skilled people capable of adapting to a rapidly changing environment. We already have the tools we need to do this, but we lack the mind-set – the way we look at education. Education, everywhere in the world, got stuck in schools with a ‘learn first, act in the world later” attitude. This logic must be changed. Today’s kids live in a completely different context, hence the need for a different education. Our kids now need an education that is far more connected and real than in the past. For this reason we need to ensure, that current education and skills are always linked to the labour market. Just as we cannot speak about employment without education, we cannot contemplate education without the employment perspective.
I believe education is a collective responsibility, we have to take a hard look at what all of us should be doing differently. For me the answer is promoting entrepreneurship education. The focus on fostering entrepreneurship in some Member States in Europe is much needed. Of course we do not need to make everyone in Europe an entrepreneur but we need to boost an entrepreneurial spirit in today’s youth. Everyone can learn being entrepreneurial and benefit from it, because even the most successful entrepreneurs were not born, they were built. We must therefore prepare and equip a new generation of innovators and problem-solvers in every sector, be it a doctor or a civil servant. Entrepreneurial competences are more valuable than ever to any business or organization or administration and are a key factor in young people making a successful transition from school to work.
I am happy that in recent years there has been increased attention given to the need of entrepreneurship education at the European level. I, personally, put particular focus on entrepreneurship education in my report on ‘Matching skills and jobs’ and the new report on ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’ that is currently being negotiated in the Parliament. In the report I explicitly call for entrepreneurship education to be part of the curriculum in the Member States in order to develop an individual entrepreneurial mind-set in citizens. However, time is running fast, and to get visible results on the labor market, we must act immediately. We must deviate from the backward “extinguishing of fires” practice and better anticipate labour market needs. In order to do so, involvement of the triangle – academia, businesses and policymakers is needed.
For this reason, I very much welcome the activities of the European Entrepreneurship NETwork (EE-HUB) and the new campaign ‘Switch on Europe!’ that I am proudly part of.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the lack of entrepreneurship education in European education systems and the missed opportunity for European citizens and its economy. I believe that entrepreneurship education is not only an opportunity, but nowadays rather a duty for Europe if it wants to keep its leadership position. Businesses are already struggling to find entrepreneurial employees and to tackle the widening disparity between staffing needs and qualified applicants. Data shows about 40% companies have difficulties finding staff with the right skills. Moreover, experts suggest that this skills gap could impact economic and corporate growth for the next 15 years! So what are we waiting for? Let’s set a new education framework that better fits to the kids of tomorrow and help them thrive! Let’s ‘Switch on Europe!’
This is why I have made entrepreneurship education the central priority of my work to ensure that young people acquire better skills and Member States successfully modernise their education systems. Students who do an entrepreneurship course, and especially those who experience hands-on practical activities, gain skills that help them innovate, communicate, think critically and, most importantly, navigate their professional and social lives.
It is important to stress that entrepreneurship education is not only about promoting start-ups, it is about creative thinking, risk taking and turning ideas into action. An entrepreneurial mindset needs to be cultivated from a young age. Yet, only 34% of young Europeans have participated in an entrepreneurship class. At the same time, those who take part tend to achieve highly positive results: they are less likely to drop out of school or become unemployed and are more likely to start a business.
So what are we waiting for? The European Commission has been supporting teaching entrepreneurship and will keep doing so. For example, the Erasmus+ programme funds highly innovative projects on mini-companies in several Member States. My goal is to build on this and boost entrepreneurship education for all young Europeans.
The success of JA alumni is only one example showing why entrepreneurship must be promoted as a core educational element. If every young pupil has at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving school, future generations will be better decision makers, problem solvers and well prepared to enter the job market. And be more confident, independent citizens. Thus, we need to maximise entrepreneurship education at all levels, especially in schools and VET institutions, to make sure that no pupil is excluded from entrepreneurial learning.
JA is one of the leading organisations in this field and thanks to its tireless efforts and unmatched expertise, it has considerably improved entrepreneurship education in Europe, helping many Europeans to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and skills. I encourage you to keep up your efforts to reach an even greater number of young participants in the future, setting up innovative projects and continuing to expand the network of JA alumni. We count on you, more than ever, to keep on spreading entrepreneurial mentality and skills in the EU.
I believe that entrepreneurial education should be very practical. Real entrepreneurs should talk about their experiences – their successes, but more importantly about their failures. Young people need to see that it is OK to fail, you don’t have to succeed the first time you take something up. When you fail, you learn. Skype was created in Estonia and it was the 10th project of the same people. 9 previous projects had failed, but only the lessons from these failures helped them to come up with Skype that has enjoyed global success.
I also think that entrepreneurial education for young people has to be playful. In Tartu, Estonia there’s Ettevõtluskool, where young people are divided into groups and have to play the whole chain from forming ideas to selling the product. Each are given starting capital and in the end it is assessed who managed to grow capital and who lost. Government, bank, advertising agency, factory and other elements are all part of the process, so that young people actually have to play through all the steps of doing business including obtaining licenses, getting loans and paying taxes. In the end they can discuss what the hardest part was, share their biggest surprises and analyse what would they do differently next time. Playing it all through creates huge interest in building a business in real life and helps to avoid the mistakes they made during their studies.
Studies show that people who have established student companies during their studies are more likely later to start their own company. Considering that more and more young people don’t want to work for others, it is important that we give them the right toolset to develop their ideas. Some of them might come up with something that could make our lives easier.